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Medical Advisory Board

Medical Advisory Board


Larry Smith – Medical Director

Dr. Larry Smith is an emergency physician who practices in Washington state and has volunteered for First Descents since 2006. He lives with his wife in the North Cascades town of Mazama. Originally from the Midwest, they bounced around the globe with the military for a few years before finally finding a suitable place to indulge their interests in mountain sports. Dr. Smith has been serving as the Medical Director for First Descents since 2009. Email:[email protected]

Wendy Bamberg

Dr. Wendy Bamberg is an epidemiologist and board-certified infectious diseases physician. Dr. Bamberg began her public health career as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer (“disease detective”) with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She has worked in public health for over 16 years, including 10 years leading the Healthcare-Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance Program for the state of Colorado. She currently balances her time working for the state of Colorado as a medical epidemiologist and supporting organizations in preventing the transmission of infectious diseases. Her favorite outdoor sports are paddle boarding and hiking.

Brad Zebrack

Brad Zebrack, PhD, MSW, MPH (DrZ) is Professor, University of Michigan School of Social Work, and member of the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center, Health Behavior and Outcomes Research Program. Dr. Zebrack has clinical social work experience in both pediatric and adult oncology, and he also has been involved in the development and evaluation of peer support programs for adolescent and young adult cancer survivors. In 2017, Brad was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for study in Australia, where he collaborated with colleagues to develop and evaluate supportive care services for adolescents and young adults affected by cancer. His research has focused on quality of life and cancer survivorship over the past 20 years, and has been supported by federal and foundation sources, including the National Cancer Institute, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), LiveStrong, and HopeLab Inc. 

Brad is also a long-term survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, diagnosed in 1985 at the age of 25. In 1988-1989, Brad and his wife Joanne embarked on and completed a one-year, 11,000-mile bicycle tour around the perimeter of the United States to promote cancer survivorship.

Daniel H. Silverman

Dan Silverman, MD, PhD, obtained his first doctoral degree in Biological Chemistry at Harvard University, and postdoctoral research training in Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School. He then earned his M.D. from The Ohio State University College of Medicine, subsequently completed post-M.D. training at UCLA, and obtained certification from both the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Nuclear Medicine.  

Dr. Silverman’s positions as Professor of Translational Theranostics, Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, Head of the Neuronuclear Imaging Section of the Nuclear Medicine Division at UCLA Medical Center, faculty member of the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) and Nuclear Medicine physician of UCLA Health, represent roles and affiliations well-suited to serve as resources in working towards overarching aims of First Descents.  He has over two decades of experience with performing and overseeing a wide variety of methods used in imaging analyses, especially as applied to projects focused upon cancer and upon neuropsychological health, and in developing software-based methods for rigorous quantitative and statistical analyses of regional brain PET data that assess changes in cerebral function.  In particular, he served as first author of the first paper identifying specifically altered patterns of regional cerebral metabolism in cancer patients who had been exposed to systemic chemotherapy, has served as key investigator overseeing all functional neuroimaging aspects of several controlled clinical trials of drugs aimed at preserving or restoring cerebral function, and is recognized as an international thought leader in the use of neuroimaging tools to document changes in brain tissue associated with cancer and cancer therapy, including serving as the co-author of the first book devoted exclusively to helping cancer survivors experiencing associated symptoms, Your Brain After Chemo, and a founder of the International Cancer and Cognition Task Force Neuroimaging Working Group.

Simon Gale

Education:
Bachelor of Science, Occupational Therapy, University of Alberta, 1997
Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, University of Alberta, 1994

Work settings as an occupational therapist:
Outpatient therapy; acute care; intensive care; acute rehabilitation; long term care.
Currently working as an outpatient occupational therapist and ‘Adventure Guide’ in a Multiple Sclerosis Center.

Emeritus Members


Elizabeth Sherwood

Liz Sherwood is from New Orleans but it was the family’s move to Santa Barbara, CA that put her in touch with her love of being outside whether it was hiking, swimming in the ocean, riding her bike, playing tennis, canoeing, sailing, skiing and being in the mountains as well as checking out the flora and fauna. She continues to love to explore and is currently spending a lot of her time in Mexico when not in the US.

She first volunteered with First Descents in 2012 so she could check it out before referring folks she worked with at the University of North Carolina Cancer Hospital. She was really impressed! Now she helps as a medical volunteer and medical reviewer. She worked for many years at UNC as a nurse practitioner and the clinical coordinator of their survivorship program and LIVESTRONG™ Center of Excellence and now has started her own business.

Leonard Sender

A nationally-recognized expert, Dr. Leonard Senders serves as the director of the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Programs at CHOC Children’s, leading one of the nation’s largest programs focused on the unique needs of cancer patients ages 15-39 years old.

As a pioneer in oncology treatment for more than 20 years, Dr. Sender specializes in treating adolescents and young adults (AYAs), a largely unknown and underrepresented group in the war on cancer. His team offers a comprehensive approach toward AYA patient cancer care and survivorship that considers their unique challenges, including preservation of fertility, management of acute and chronic effects of treatment, and the psychosocial impact.

As an innovative leader in research, Dr. Sender is conducting extensive studies to improve outcomes and quality of life for AYAs. His research includes epidemiological components (incidence, prevalence, root causes), biological factors (genetic or cellular differences), the psychosocial impact and long-term cancer survivorship. He serves on the Adolescent and Young Adult Committee for Children’s Oncology Group, a cooperative group to accelerate research for childhood and adolescent cancer. Dr. Sender is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology. A passionate advocate for AYA’s with cancer, Dr. Sender serves as chairman of the LIVESTRONG Young Adult Alliance Cancer Centers Working Group, chairman of the I’m Too Young for This foundation, and is a founding member and chairman of SeventyK.org.

Dedicated to clinical excellence, Dr. Sender is board certified in pediatrics and pediatric hematology/oncology. Prior to joining CHOC Children’s, Dr. Sender served as an adult hematologist/oncologist at the University of Kentucky where he was a faculty member in the School of Medicine. Dr. Sender conducted his pediatrics internship and residency at UC Irvine Medical Center. He completed part of his pediatrics hematology/oncology subspecialty training at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He received medical education in South Africa.

Dr. Sender is consistently voted as one of Orange County’s Top Doctors by the Orange County Medical Association.

Terez Malka

Terez Malka is completing her medical residency with dual training in Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics.  She plans on continuing her career as academic faculty in an adult and pediatric emergency department with a research focus on wilderness medicine and disaster response. Terez is a former whitewater slalom kayaker and raft guide and looks forward to getting back on the water now that her medical training is complete! She has been aware of First Descents since its inception and is delighted to finally be involved on the medical advisory board and as an enthusiastic volunteer

Archie Bleyer

Dr. Archie Bleyer’s interest in Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Oncology began in the mid 1990s when he became aware that the progress in cancer he had personally witnessed in children had not occurred in adolescents. As Chair of the Children’s Cancer Group, he formed the CCG AYA Committee and in 1999, had the U.S. National Cancer Institute conduct a workshop on the topic. He subsequently engaged the Children’s Oncology Group, NCI Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program, U.S. President’s Cancer Panel, American Society of Clinical Oncology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Lance Armstrong Foundation and Aflac Insurance Company in a national AYA oncology initiative. The initiative has since been joined by the United Kingdom’s Teenage Cancer Trust, U.S. NCI Director’s Office (Program Review Group), Planet Cancer, First Descents, CanTeen, Teen Impact, Enzon Pharmaceuticals, CancerCare, Hyundai Corporation, and multiple cancer centers in the U.S., Australia, and Europe. During his pediatric oncology career, Dr. Bleyer was awarded more than $75 million research grants as a Principal Investigator from the National Institutes of Health, American Cancer Society, and Leukemia Society of America. His current clinical research mission is dedicated to improving the outcome of young adults with cancer who have not fared as well as younger and older patients. Email: [email protected]

Ruth Tesar

Ms. Tesar has been involved in the field of Molecular Imaging since 1993. Ms Tesar gained her experience in PET center operations where she continues to provide management oversight as the CEO to Northern California PET Imaging Center, the first free-standing PET center established in the US. The PET center team helped to establish the data to support many of the clinical indications for PET in oncology and continues to be a leader in the PET field. She was involved as a founding officer in the start up of PETNET Pharmaceuticals in 1996, still the market leader in the provision of PET radiopharmaceuticals to imaging and research facilities. Most recently she has been involved in a cooperative venture to produce novel biomarkers for research, ultimately for clinical use. She was instrumental in gaining insurance coverage for PET procedures by private payers and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. She has served as President of the Institute for Clinical PET (now the Academy for Molecular Imaging) and has served as a Board member of that organization for seven years. Ms. Tesar has authored multiple peer-reviewed papers and abstracts on the subjects of clinical PET, the cost benefits of using PET in clinical practice, and the payment for PET procedures. She is an invited speaker on the subjects of reimbursement and marketing for PET and clinical PET. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from Colorado State University, Nuclear Medicine Technology Training from the University of California at Davis, and completed graduate work in health administration and health policy at the University of Southern California. She is located in Sacramento, California. Email: [email protected]

Robbie Gluckson

Robbie Gluckson is the Director of Marketing, Development & Community Outreach for UCLA Health’s Department of Medicine.  A senior marketing executive formerly associated with the Premiere Oncology Foundation, Oakwood Worldwide, the Pritikin Longevity Centers and Architectural Digest, Ms. Gluckson is a true believer that healthcare is a fundamental right — not a privilege.  She is a champion of patient rights and world-class medical services delivered with compassion — one patient at a time.  Her passions include patient advocacy, the patient experience and seamless patient navigation.  Ms. Gluckson holds a B.A. from Bowdoin College and an M.A. in Print Journalism from USC.   She has been recognized by the LA Business Journal as a finalist for The Leadership Excellence Award for Nonprofit & Corporate Citizenship.

Michelle Snyder

Michelle Snyder is a Senior Vice President at Epocrates Inc, one of the country’s leading health care technology companies. With a door as a desk and a beanbag as a chair, Michelle was one of the early employees at the company in 1999. Her leadership helped the company grow from a small Silicon Valley startup to a successful publically traded company. Prior to Epocrates, Michelle worked in health policy in Washington D.C. and did consulting for pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and venture capital firms. Michelle received her BA from Carleton College and her MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. In addition to First Descents, Michelle also serves on the board of Women’s Initiative for Self Employment, which provides low income women in the San Francisco Bay Area with the training and funding to realize their dreams as entrepreneurs. Michelle lives in San Francisco with her husband and their son Cooper Ridge. She loves to be outside hiking, biking or exploring and can’t wait to travel the world again soon – her favorite trips have included Bhutan, Burma, Patagonia and Namibia. Email: [email protected]

Larry Tokaz

Dr. Tokaz is a practicing Medical Oncologist and has been in Austin now for some 25 years. He works with Texas Oncology, is the Medical Director at South Austin Cancer Center, and serves on the Board of Trustees at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center. Larry has been a strong community advocate advancing the awareness and in cancer treatment and survival hope over the last 25 years. His undergraduate education was at Rice University, medical school at UT Southwestern, and post graduate time at the University of North Carolina and at UT San Antonio. He and Pam have three wonderful children ages 25-29, enjoy spending anytime they can together, and traveling (often times in an attempt to see their on the go Kids). Larry divides his career between helping patients deal with their cancer in the most compassionate and understanding way possible and finding important time to spend with his family and friends. He loves a good hike in the mountains to gain and retain personal perspective. Email: [email protected]

Pam Tokaz

Pam Tokaz has a private practice as a Marriage and Family Therapist in Austin, Tx. Her practice spans post partum and prenatal issues to individual and family therapy with a focus on postpartum depression, depression, anxiety, grief and life transitional issues. Pam has volunteered in Austin in leadership and developmental capacities for the past 25years. Several areas of particular interest have been with the Runaway Hotline, Capital Area Mental Health clinic, Family Connections, Wonders and Worries, Ronal McDonald House and Any Baby Can. She has been a facilitator for several groups , while maintaining an ongoing Postpartum Support for Moms group for the past three years. Email: [email protected]

Ken Adnan

Dr. Ken Adnan is a board certified Emergency and family practice physician practicing in Colorado. An avid outdoorsman and cancer survivor himself, Ken has been volunteering for First Descents since 2004. Email: [email protected]

Holly Adnan

Holly Adnan is a Registered Nurse who lives in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, just outside of Vail. Holly received her Bachelors Degree of Science in Nursing from the University of Arizona and has been a nurse since 1995. Her background includes working with cardiac medical and surgical patients, renal transplants, obstetrics and emergency room and trauma nursing. Holly currently works at Keystone Medical Clinic at the base of Keystone Ski Resort as an RN in the emergency room and as the Trauma Nurse Coordinator. She also serves as the Director for Think First, a non-profit, international injury prevention program that focuses on the education of youth regarding the prevention of brain and spinal cord injuries. The program provides education and gives away free bike and ski helmets to those in need. Holly has been a volunteer with First Descents since 2004 and describes her time each year with the camp as her “best week of the year”. She enjoys traveling the world, snowboarding, telemark skiing, hiking and spending time with her husband Ken and their two small children, Satori and Bodhi. Email: [email protected]

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